NewsMilwaukee Tonight


Hidden Gems: Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum has unique Italian architecture

Cassandra's Hidden Gems
Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum
Posted at 4:42 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 20:08:16-04

MILWAUKEE — I have always been fascinated by the beautiful architecture of this city. Milwaukee is rich with beautifully preserved historic buildings, and one of my favorites is Villa Terrace.

The 1924 Mediterranean-style home was formally owned by Lloyd R. Smith of the A.O. Smith Corporation.

Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum has unique Italian architecture

After a trip to Italy, the Smiths were inspired by the Italian Villas and commissioned the building of this beautiful home. I met with interim executive director Neil Albrecht to learn about the history of the majestic mansion that sits atop Lake Michigan.

“The estate was originally named Sopra Mare, an Italian expression for 'above the sea' and it is inscribed on one of the fence posts down by the lake.” said Neil. “While many of the lakefront homes were designed to face the street, Villa Terrace was designed to face the lake.”

villa terrace

Today, the Villa stands as a Milwaukee County arts and cultural institution with many hidden gems to uncover. In the 60s, the Smith family donated it to the county to ensure public access.

To learn more, click here.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

milwaukee tonight


Nominate your 'Hidden Gem' for Milwaukee Tonight

Milwaukee Tonight focuses on the people, places, and events that make the community special. From artists to architecture, food to festivals, neighborhoods to nightlife - this show is a nightly reminder that our city is filled with stories to be proud of. Watch weekdays at 6:30 p.m. on TMJ4.